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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Howard Jones UK 60s Folk Club Boom? (1167* d) RE: UK 60s Folk Club Boom? 14 Mar 19


Jim, you claim that "by removing folk from the folk clubs you have driven people away in their thousands".

The problem I have with that argument is that what I hear in folk clubs today is not very different from what I heard in the 70s and 80s. Whatever it was that caused the decline in folk clubs, I don't think it was the material being performed. The type of music you could expect to hear in clubs back then (and now) was determined more by style than origin, and encompassed contemporary folk, music hall, Sacred Harp and other forms alongside traditional "1954" folk. What made them acceptable to the audiences was the style in which they were performed.

I think the idea that the folk clubs somehow safeguarded traditional singing is mistaken. The folk club movement as I experienced it in the 70s and 80s was not very interested in authentic "source" traditional singers, it was principally concerned with the folk revival, which has developed its own style of performance which is largely accompanied. In more than 20 years of visiting folk clubs several times a week, in different parts of the country, I saw only two traditional singers in folk clubs - the Copper Family and Walter Pardon. For the first 10 years of my involvement in folk I was simply unaware that authentic traditional music still existed, with the exception of the Coppers (who I took to be a unique and anachronistic survival).

The regrettable fact is that authentic traditional singing and playing has always been a minority interest, even amongst those who who are interested in folk music. For most of them, this means "revival folk". Traditional singing is too raw and too different from what they are accustomed to listening to, especially when it is only available on record without the immediacy of being in the room. This is hard core stuff, and most people who enjoy revival folk don't make that leap.

I think Jim may have been exceptionally fortunate in being involved in particular folk clubs and with a particular group of people who took a special interest not only in traditional music and traditional singers but in understanding it and discussing it. I don't think this was typical of most clubs, certainly not by the time I became involved at the end of the 60s, when the clubs were places of entertainment rather than study.




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